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Uncle Sam Wants You To Nail Hackers

Bits & Bytes

Uncle Sam Wants You to Nail Hackers

While business frets about scarce programmers, Uncle Sam is worried about a shortage of computer-security experts. So the White House wants to create a "cyber corps"--a group of students who would get two years of tuition aid to study such things as intrusion detection in return for two years of government service.

Theprogram would enroll 300 undergraduate and graduate students in the fiscal year beginning October, 2000. One problem: Few colleges have undergraduate computer-security programs. The Clinton Administration wants schools to develop their own.

In addition, Washington is launching a federal information-technology security program to train current government workers about security. They learn, for example, to guard databases by changing passwords or how to add software to detect intruders. Washington hopes that teaching workers over the Internet, rather than in person, will cut the cost of training up to 10,000 federal employees a year. The overall tabfor new computer-security training: up to $25 million annually.By Stan Crock; Edited by Timothy J. MullaneyReturn to top

A Net Consultant Gives Itself Good Advice

Some internet entrepreneurs are so eager to go public that they don't bother waiting for revenue first. Not Farzad Dibachi, chief executive of hot startup Niku Corp. in Redwood City, Calif. The 18-month-old company released its consulting software in March and logged $4 million in sales in the company's most recent quarter. "I won't go public until I have a $10 million quarter," says Dibachi, an ex-Oracle Corp. executive. "Then you show it's real."

Even without an IPO, Dibachi isn't timid about raising money. He has roped in $28 million in private investment and is planning to raise an additional $50 million.

The goal is to make a must-go destination for computing consultants and other professionals, creating a marketplace for products and services. That will require an expensive brand-building campaign. "If I can get 1 million professionals on the site, the game will be over," says Dibachi. It's classic Web-think: Attract a big audience, and revenues will follow.By Steve Hamm; Edited by Timothy J. MullaneyReturn to top

Online Marketing Is Clicking

Web advertising has been attracting more spending recently, and now it may even be getting some respect. Although long scorned as ineffective because most Web surfers don't click on most banners, online advertising scored well in a recent survey by market researchers at Greenfield Online Inc. in Westport, Conn.

Nearly two-thirds of consumer respondents said Web ads are more effective than at least one other major medium (table). But Web surfers are looking for incentives to read an ad before they will click to another page. Over 66% will look at an advertisement containing a free offer, 49% will read an ad that promises a discount, and 46% will scope out a contest. But bright colors and moving images--the "rich media" on which the industry has pinned so much hope--interest few civilians.

As Greenfield Online Vice-President Brin Bell puts it: "Consumers are saying: `If you give me something, I'll pay attention."'

Broadcast advertising may still be the best way to promote a Web site, however: 90% of respondents visited a Web site after seeing its address on television.Edited by Timothy J. MullaneyReturn to top

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